Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

Archive for the category “USA”

Vertical Farming Taking Off


Vertical farming is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers, such as in a skyscraper, used warehouse, or shipping container. The modern ideas of vertical farming use indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology, where all environmental factors can be controlled. These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control (humidity, temperature, gases…) and fertigation. Some vertical farms use techniques similar to greenhouses, where natural sunlight can be augmented with artificial lighting and metal reflectors

The concepts was pioneered first in 2014, with Vertical Fresh Farms operating in Buffalo, NY/USA, specializing in a wide variety of salad greens, herbs, and sprouts.

Vertical Fresh Farms has been farming commercially on a small scale in Buffalo, New York for a few years, but a larger scale commercial facility is currently under construction in the Netherlands. Fruit and vegetables supplier Staay Food Group is erecting a 900 square meter vertical farm, which will have a total cultivation area of 30,000 square meters.

[] – Vertical Farming Is Taking Off: Europe’s First Commercial Vertical Farm Under Construction In The Netherlands
[] – Vertical farming
[] – Grootste commerciële stadskwekerij van Europa in Dronten

The World Doesn’t Have a Long-Term Energy Problem


Terra-Watts solar is coming, replacing Giga-Watts. This is the conclusion prominent scientists from the German Fraunhofer Institute (ISE) and US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) arrive at. They predict that by 2030, the global cumulative installed solar capacity will be 10-30 fold of what it is today. Solar panel producer “First Solar” predicts that as early as 2020, the price of solar panels will decrease to as little as 25 cents/Watt. That would mean that a standard 100 cm x 164 cm, 300 Watt panel costing € 300,- will cost € 75 in 2020. Solar panels as block-board.

Currently Abu Dhabi is able to produce solar electricity for a staggering low 2.4 cent/kWh.

There is no long-term global energy problem.

[] – Forscher prognostizieren gigantischen Solarboom
[] – Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges

Storage Breakthrough – $100/kWh has been achieved

Cheap storage to counter the intermittent supply of renewable electricity is the missing link en route towards the desired renewable energy base of the future, but that problem could now have been solved. Technology has developed so rapidly in recent years that cost of electricity storage has been brought down from $1000 to $100 per kWh.

City College NY has improved an old concept of mangandioxide-zinc batteries. Result: 6000 charge-cycles for less than $100/kwh.
Price storage of a single kWh: 1.67 dollar cent or say 8 cent per day per 5 kWh/day household. Peanuts.
Can also be used for cars: 40 kWh battery for $4000. Bye-bye gasoline.

Mangan-Oxid is abundant and non-toxic.
This NYC startup is going to produce the batteries first:


[] – Sustainable, high energy density battery created
[] – Regenerable Cu-intercalated MnO2 layered cathode for highly cyclable energy dense batteries
[] – Unexpected discovery leads to a better battery
[] – Power dense zinc-manganese power unit as cheap as a car battery
[] – Manganese
[] – Zinc
[] – Batterijdoorbraak: magische grens van 100 dollar is geslecht

Charles Hall on EROI

Talk Princeton 2016.

Hall comes from ecology and that’s where he minted the concept of energy return on invest. It was first applied to fish and fish migration patterns. Hall discovered that my moving around at the energy cost of 1 calorie, the fish gained 5 calories (salmon eating plankton). Life in general has to engage in energy investments. Next Hall applied EROI on humans. Hunter/gatherers need to walk/run to find food, nuts and animals. Fire enhanced EROI since it made cooking of food possible, which was more abundant and easier to acquire than animals. Next step agriculture allowed for food storage, yielding in EROI in the range of 10-50, enabling leisure, resulting in socializing, like story telling. Next step fossil fuel exploitation. Secret: you want more wealth? Use more energy. During Hall’s lifetime, energy use per capita, as well as wealth increased by a factor of 7. Next graph that shows the % of GDP spent on energy, with a sharp decline after 1850 (application of coal). In the 1990s that % went up again. Hall states that EROI of most of our fuels is declining as they are depleting. Hall acknowledges the importance of technology and that technology is in competition with depletion. Hall refers to his book about (low) EROI of solar with Pietro. Pietro today is even more pessimistic about EROI of PV-solar than before. Refers to the reality of peak (conventional) oil. Decline EROI of Norwegian North Sea oil from 1:40 to 1:20. Patterns applies to everywhere else. Net energy cliff.Offshore wind has EROI of 52. Shows picture with peak fossil (all included) at 2045. Familiar pyramid of cultural achievements as related to EROI.For arts you are supposed to need 14:1 (a ridiculous notion, the highest art was created before the fossil fuel age). Hall has extremely little hope for renewable energy and suggests that by 3000, humans will be hunters-gatherers again. Hall nevertheless says it is wise that we move the renewables. Hall downplays importance climate change a little and that the EROI discussion-implications are more important for society.

[cassandralegacy] – Charlie Hall speaks about EROI (and many other things)

Plundering Appalachia

How Powerful Is Big Oil?

[] – How Powerful Is Big Oil?

Breakthrough Battery Technology: $65/kWh


US researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a liquid metal battery that could fulfil that role. Such a battery would lower the overall costs of energy storage, and have the advantages that they are mechanically simple and don’t take up much space… Indeed, the team’s experiments with this novel storage system carried out at 450°C displayed a current density of 275mA/cm2, with a cycling efficiency of 98% on charging and 73% ‘round-trip’ energy efficiency… The team’s experiments completely charging and discharging their battery over 450 cycles over 75 days suggests that the battery will still have 85% of its initial storage capacity after 10 years active service… The team adds that at today’s prices, the electrode materials costs are approximately $65/kWh.

Editor: is this is true and no serious (environmental) disadvantages come with this technology, this could mean the final breakthrough for wind and solar.

[] – Molten metal batteries set to store grid power

[deepresource] – Tesla Storage for $350/kWh
[deepresource] – 160$/kwh Storage in 2016
[deepresource] – Storage For Less Than $100/kWh

Utility Scale Solar for 5 cent/kWh


An upbeat report from a stakeholder: utility solar in the US is doing fine and reaching grid parity, if one includes tax incentives, scheduled to last until 2021. But reduced tax benefits maybe compensated by continued price decline of large scale solar installations. Several large utility scale PV power stations came online this year, such as the 550-megawatt (MW) Topaz Solar plant in San Luis Obispo County, California and the 550MW Desert Sunlight plant in Desert Center, California.

The first reported contract for solar power under five cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) occurred in 2014: Austin Energy’s 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with SunEdison for 150 MW of solar power. The trend continued in 2015, when Nevada Energy secured a 4.6 cent per kWh PPA with SunPower.

Editor: articles like this explain why we have lost interest a little in energy problems, because the initial fear, which prompted us to start this blog nearly four years ago, namely a world running out of energy fast, has been pushed to the background and replaced with worries about the state of the economy and international finance, the destabilizing refugee crises and the threat of war.

Personally, it costed merely 3000 euro to have a solar installation on the roof that will annually produce almost twice as much electricity as needed for the next 25-30 years.

Now that utility solar has reached grid parity, the only remaining energy related problem is storage, to overcome daily and most important seasonal demand and supply fluctuations. Potential solutions: pumped hydro and perhaps fuel production from electricity. But there is little doubt that a 100% renewable energy base is feasible within a few decades.

[] – A Sunny Future for Utility-Scale Solar

No Peak Car Yet


Predicting is easy, being right a different matter altogether. Many voices said that peak car was in 2008, coinciding with the Lehman crash. Apparently, a somewhat recovering economy and more important collapsed fuel prices, growing population as well as more fuel efficient cars, have made that Americans are driving more miles than ever before.

[] – Why driving in the US is making a big comeback

Der Spiegel Proposes to Let VW Go Bust


Der Spiegel represents US and not German interests and as such is the enemy within, a Trojan Horse. In a latest move to undermine the economic strength of Germany, the neo-bolsheviks from Hamburg propose that the German government should let the flagship of the German economy Volkswagen go bust and found a new state-run company that should concentrate on e-mobility.

It is likely that parasitic US laywers, governments and what not, will exploit the occasion to do as much damage as possible to their German competitor and will treat the hapless company as an undefended German town in 1944 by night. Predictably the readers comments section begs to disagree.

But the future of VW doesn’t look very good indeed.

[] – Keine Rettung: Lasst VW pleitegehen – und helft den Arbeitnehmern

E-Raw & Juicer Retro Design E-Bikes

[] – Elektro-Zweirad-Studien: Die große Freiheit
[] – e-raw electric moto



Texas Solar Tower Go Ahead?

What we love about the project are the video and music, but that’s about it.

Last year we reported about an Australian company promoting the design of a solar downdraft wind tower and expressed our skepticism regarding the energy efficiency of the project:

[deepresource] – Solar Downdraft Wind Tower Planned in Arizona

To our amazement, Environmission reported that Texas agreed to invest 1 million $ in the undertaking.

[] – Texas Solar Tower Development Agreement US$ Banked

Furthermore, India seems to be interested as well:

[] – EnviroMission Reports Progress On The First Solar Chimney In India

[] – Solar updraft tower

Epic Californian Drought Latest

balls-in-lakeBalls against water evaporation

[] – Los Angeles dumps 20K ‘shade balls’ into reservoir to stop evaporation

New 320 MW Solar Project in Utah

[source] There’s a lot of space and sun in Utah

320 MW AC (420MW DC) distributed over 4 locations of 80 MW each. Rocky Mountain Power will buy the output.

The project is now under construction and fully financed with an expected commercial operation date of mid-2016.

[] – Four Brothers to be largest solar development in Utah
[] – SunEdison to Partner With Dominion on 420W Four Brothers Solar Project

Landkarte_Amerika_USA_Utah[source] US state Utah

Off The Grid

2012 Dutch documentary. Alexander Oey traveled throughout the United States and filmed communities who are taking matters into their own hands. 50 of the 46 U.S. states are nearly bankrupt. Over 13 million Americans are unemployed. More than 49 million people live below the poverty line.

How was it able to come that far? People seek for their own Utopia outside the financial system and government. Are these communities the right path and solution? Has they found effective alternatives, while governments worldwide are heading to bankruptcy?

BMW Technology Applied to Bicycles

[] – Heisenberg XF1 Electric Bike Utilizes BMW i Patent

Not BMW, but an illustration of how fast an e-bike really can go.

100 kmh. With these kind of speeds, who needs a car for average commuting distances?

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Range: 200 miles on a single charge
Cost: $37,500 (or $30,000 after tax breaks)

Editor: very expensive and the electricity needed to drive them doesn’t grow on trees, but in practice will be generated by fossil fuel in conventional power stations for many years to come, not by wind and solar.

Driving a car costs 1 kWh per 5 km. That amount of energy is enough to power a desktop computer + screen for an entire 8 hour working day. In Holland for instance, the average car commuting distance is something like 22 km or 44 km to and fro (9 kWh). In other words, if office workers would work from home, using their internet connection and Skype for communication and meetings, they would save a huge amount of energy and the need for car ownership would evaporate. Irregular car use could be satisfied using community or rented cars.

[] – GM’s 200-Mile Range Chevrolet Bolt EV Prototypes Hit The Road, Target Tesla Model III

fiat-panda-gasFor Europeans it makes much more sense to drive a Fiat Panda on natural gas as your last privately owned car. Range on natural gas is also 200 miles (300 km), but you can fall back on petrol (additional range 700 km), if you can’t find a natural gas station. Cost: 13,500 euro; that’s about half the cost of the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Fuel cost is very low: 1 euro/kg (= 25 km). And with CO2 emission of 29g/km even cleaner than a ‘clean’ e-vehicle, that outsources pollution to the power station.

[] – Fiat Panda (aardgas)
[] – Why CNG?

But why are we still muddling on with this outdated concept of a 5-seater sedan if the average occupation rate is 1.25 passengers?!

Nasa Climate Study Warns of Unprecedented North American Drought

[] – Nasa climate study warns of unprecedented North American drought

Thin Film Solar Efficiency Record 18.6%

Thin_Film_Flexible_Solar_PV_Installation_2Thin film solar cells are flexible

The record was accomplished by US company First Solar. In general, thin film solar cells are less efficient, but cheaper, certainly if you integrate thin film solar in the roof of new houses.

In 2013 thin-film technologies accounted for about 9% of worldwide deployment, while 91% was held by crystalline silicon

thinfilmForecast of Thin Film Solar Cell Production and Market Share (2006~2015). Date: 2011

[] – First Solar Sets New Conversion Efficiency World Record Of 18.6% For Thin-Film Solar Module
[] – Thin film solar cell

US Shale Output Shrinking


It comes now from the US Energy Information Agency, and is headlined by Bloomberg Business, so yes, it’s official. As Bloomberg put it, “US Shale Boom Grinds to a Halt.” Which, actually, is overstating the case by a good bit, there isn’t going to be a “halt.” Nevertheless, as sane people everywhere have been insisting for years, the shale boom is, as it always was going to be, a bust.

Editor: this is it folks, global peak oil is knocking on the door. We do expect oil prices to substantially rise again, somewhere between now and the end of next year.

[] – It’s Official: The Shale-Oil Boom is Over

Halliburton fracking job in the Bakken (Wikipedia)

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